Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Man Mo Cafe Review: Curious Dim Sum

hkLifestyleGeek visits Man Mo Cafe

Walk along Cat Street or Upper Lascar Row in Sheung Wan and it's choc a block with Chinese antique or perhaps quasi-antique shops. However, one space has been transformed into a curious little eatery -- a restaurant serving western-style dim sum.

Owner Nicolas Elalouf had been in the F&B industry for five years in Hong Kong when the Swiss native decided it was time to do something he was really passionate about. The concept of the restaurant had been simmering in the back of his mind for a while and is now finally a reality.

Man Mo Cafe, a reference to Man Mo Temple nearby, is a clean modern space in contrast to its neighbours stuffed with antiques, and yet the restaurant also pays homage to the area with wooden chairs and tables. The atmosphere is laid back and casual, and staff are friendly, helmed by Elalouf.

The menu is a different take on East-meets-West and the pedigree of the two chefs in the kitchen is impressive -- one ex-Robuchon and one who used to train staff at Din Tai Fung how to make dumplings. As a result the presentation of the dumplings here are beautiful, though some of the flavours of the dishes need a bit more tweaking, but overall interesting.

The burgerbun looks like a pastry bun, and it comes with a small tube of sauce. Bite into it and you'll see there's a mini burger pattie with tomato inside. Squeeze a bit of the sauce into it and the combination is fabulous.

Another favourite is the bouillabaisse that is presented in a Chinese bowl that throws diners off in terms of what they are expecting. It's a flavourful soup, while the "risotto" is more like fried rice, again presented in a blue-and-white bowl.

While we like the delicate presentation of the dumplings, the taste isn't quite right. The foie gras xiaolongbao look gorgeous, but perhaps goose liver shouldn't be steamed, making it tough, and the oil from the fat oozing out.

Another is the truffle brie pot stickers that have fine bits of turnip in there to hold the truffle and brie in there, making it an odd combination.

Nevertheless the winner of the evening is the dessert of Nutella balls. From the outside they look like Chinese sesame balls, but bite the crispy exterior and inside is a dollop of the famous hazelnut chocolate spread -- a Chinese Ferrero Rocher.

Man Mo Cafe
40 Upper Lascar Row
Sheung Wan
2644 5644

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